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Recording Your Heritage Online

Date 2008

Event ID 563682

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Recording Your Heritage Online


Glen Beag. Nowhere is the prehistoric architecture of the West Highlands best preserved than at Corrary, in the rare setting of a secluded and fertile glen.

The Glenelg Brochs are a pair of fortified homesteads built by Iron Age farmers sometime between the 4th century BC and end of the 1st century AD; excavated in 1914 and 1922. Dun Telve is unrivalled on the Scottish Mainland for the degree to which it survives - a section of walling still rises to some 10 m beneath its canopy of oak and sycamores.

Dun Troddan was badly plundered in 1722, when 'some Goth purloined from the top seven feet and a half' during the construction of Bernera Barracks, but a section of its walling still rises to over 7 m, and it is possible to ascend nine stairs to a passage in the mural cavity.

Intact, these drystone brochs would have borne a curious resemblance to great industrial cooling towers. Ruinous, they reveal in cross-section their ingenious double-skinned construction. Rising in thin courses from a solid base some 15 ft thick, the inner wall (with long voids to lessen its load) is clearly vertical, while the outer wall tapers, with bridging slabs tying the two together. A guard's cell opens off the entrance passage, where door-checks and draw-bar holes are still evident. The brochs had central stone hearths and were probably roofed with timber and thatch, incorporating smoke holes. It is now believed that their mural galleries, linked by staircases, were probably used mostly for storage, with principal living accommodation provided in thatched wooden shelters built on several levels against the inner wallface.

[For centuries, the Glenelg brochs have been the subject of intense interest from antiquarians and travel writers, whose various interpretations of their origins include Pictish towers and Danish forts. In folklore, the brochs were the homes of Fingalian giants.]

Taken from "Western Seaboard: An Illustrated Architectural Guide", by Mary Miers, 2008. Published by the Rutland Press

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